It is hard to watch someone or something you love die. We often take time reminiscing about the great moments of life we shared. We focus on the good times and out of affinity we gracefully overlook the current frail and broken state of decay we have seen creeping in over the last few years. As someone who was born and raised in churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, I feel like this week’s convention in Anaheim CA, was the final blip on the heart monitor of someone I love. That final, blaring alarm on the life saving machines is now screaming that all too familiar tone which marks the end of life.
Now the reality is undeniable, the patient is dead. It is time to call it. The Southern Baptist Convention died on June 15, 2022, 9:39 pm CT.
No, the SBC has not closed up shop. The missionaries were not all recalled. The local churches will still gather on Sunday. But the life or the truth that the Convention once held went out when the organization could no longer answer, “What is a Pastor?”
This is the same SBC that once took pride in “christian training unions.” In “Sunday schools.” In teaching the Bible from cradle to grave. The once mighty standard bearer for Biblical inerrancy.
This once strong SBC choked to death on what should have been a simple vote to disassociate from churches who can not agree with the biblical requirements of a pastor.
Simple things like a cold or an infection can kill when our body is weak or compromised.
This should have been a simple debate. One that has been settled for centuries. The Bible clearly states the qualifications for pastor. I will not even list the verses here because they are irrefutable. They are known. If you doubt it, read this well-sourced article from Founders Ministries that debates the idea from both sides. The denominational arguments about the sufficiency of the scriptures has been a public fight for decades. But previously the SBC has not really struggled to refute the idea that women could be called as church pastors. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 clearly states that the office of a pastor is reserved for men only. Therefore churches not adhering to this simple truth are not SBC aligned churches. Before 5 years ago this truth was never really a serious debate in SBC churches. Churches were just not SBC if they held a different view.
Everyone was fine with this. It was just one of many key items of principle that separated Southern Baptists from other denominations.
But spiritual sickness has crept into the SBC. Weak men have taken power. Liars have become leaders. Correction has become coddling. Subterfuge and bureaucracy have rotted this once great convention of believers. Sin has been ignored. Abuse has been covered up. Great men have exposed for holding marxist socialist views and pastors and directors claimed CRT and racial based gospels were acceptable.
In the end, weak men who valued fraternity and prosperity more than the truth, became driving force in all areas of the SBC. And in one final, made for TV event, they killed the SBC as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
Many brave messengers traveled to California. They took their time, invested financially, and put their reputations on the line to go and stand for truth and scriptural standards. They never really had a chance. The various liberal organizations that make up the SBC bureaucracy paid for people to go and vote for this departure from scripture. These progressive focused groups have been growing like a cancer for years. So it was easy for them to insure the old guard of the SBC would be outnumbered. Then in almost the same motion they voted to continue growing and festering their DEI and justice initiatives. It almost seemed like a plan.
“The Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t have to survive … but I’m not going to compromise the word of God.”
There are still great men and women of God in the churches of the SBC. Some of the 2022 messengers knew their efforts were in vain before they went westward. They went to fight because it was worthy. As Dr. Adrian Rodgers once said, “We don’t have to get together.” And many of these brave souls took his charge in an effort to promote the Gospel. Some have labored for years to salvage the SBC from being just another denomination or talent that is thrown on the dirt. Many have tried to somehow protect the billions in Cooperative Fund giving from unnecessary legal wrangling. Great numbers of Baptist still rightly desire that the International Mission Board would send the true message of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth and not a social gospel.
We know how this denominational death spiral ends because we have seen this many times before. Eternally we know God wins. But today as we work together in congregations, we also know that the truth of the Bible is all you need to answer what a pastor really is. And if a denomination deviates from that, death is guaranteed.